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  SP-808 At a Glance
Click for larger view arrowReleased: 1998  Specifications
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unseen (Ekko2002@yahoo.com) writes:
The concept is a great one: Stick a sampler, sequencer, hard disk recorder, virtual analogue synth, and an effects processor in one box. The application, however, is lacking. 1st, the sampler only stores the first bit of sample in ram. The rest is read from the zip drive, (which doubles as the hard disk recorder.) I've only recorded one song so far and at 165 bmp with a sample at the same measure on every track (4 stereo or mono samples)at least one of the samples won't sound and I get this annoying error message telling me that the disk is too busy to read everything. The manual has a remedy, but it won't work if you've sampled a drum loop and then in the sequencer you chop it up into pieces. It would work if you sampled each chopped up drum part and THEN played your pattern into the sequencer. I guess since the sequencer is trying to read the broken up parts from the original unbroken sample, it can't find and retrieve the data fast enough.Definitely some simm memory would be a blessing. 2nd, what's with Roland trying to pass off a zip drive as a hard disk recorder? Zips have a much shorter life span than a hard drive. The manual even warns you to be sure to make a backup of your disk, in anticipation of the inevitable zip crash. I've had mine since June and no crash yet, but I'm waiting. 3rd, Every advertisement for this product I've seen misrepresents the machine as an 8 track recorder. This is simply a lie. It can record 4 mono tracks or 4 stereo tracks. That's it. Why you can't record a sample to the left and right channels of each track a-d, I don't know. If there's a trick to it, please inform me of it. It probably wouldn't matter anyway with the samples being accessed from the zip drive; It won't even play 4 sounds simultaneously on the sequencer (if the samples have been chopped up in the sequence.) 4th, If you but the $350 op1 expansion board you get a scsi adapter. Great news except for the fact that you can only attatch another zip drive (no hard drive, cd recorder, or minidisc), which you can only backup data, store sounds, songs, and effects patches. You can't write to or read directly from the external zip drive. You do, however, get digital ins/outs and extra analog ins/outs. 5th, I really wish the sp808 had digital knobs for things like pitch shifting and BPM adjustment. Instead you are forced to navigate menus to change these settings. And changing the BPM of the song won't intuitively change the BPM of the samples contained therein. Bummer. Other than these things, it's a pretty cool unit. All in one is a big to pull off. Nice try, but I hope Roland addresses some of these issues for future releases.

Comments About the Sounds:

(Thanks to unseen for this info.)
and Tim Christensen for the pic

Links for the Roland SP-808
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 More Synth Gear  Best US prices on many current models
x SP808 Roland Tech Specs From the Roland Groove Gear Catalog
x Emulsion Down Studios Songs recorded using the SP808
x Sp808 pc/mac to SP808 utillity
x S T Y L E X S . C J B . N E T The best of trance, d&b, techno, industrial, breaks, experimental done with MC-505, Rm1x, SP-808, SP-202 and software. Updated on monthly basis.
x Sp808 Review @ XHipHop.com An in depth review of the awesome groove sampler.
x Free Loops At Looperman.com Hundreds of free loops to download and use in your roland sp808

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